October 5, 2015
While you’re busy planning your weekly blog topics and making an effort to perfect every post, it’s easy to overlook one critical characteristic of your blog. It’s the element that draws customers into your blog just as quickly as the headline, and it certainly leaves a lasting impression on your brand.
And that element is the design of your business blog.
Pouring your heart and soul into high-quality blog content can do wonders for your business, but it isn’t always enough to keep your customers on your page for long. If your business blog’s design is subpar, it could actually hurt conversions and send your blog strategy efforts back to square one.
But what are the best practices of business blog design? And does blog design really matter all that much?
Keep Your Blog Design Elements Uniform
One of the best places to start is keeping site elements uniform. This means that all of your blog header images, font sizes, and font styles should remain consistent. Jumping from one style of blog header image to another makes the feel of your blog appear disorganized and unprofessional—unless the new style is a major improvement over your old one.
Furthermore, you’ll want to be sure that your font is large and clear enough to read. A tiny font on your company blog looks cluttered. It’s up to you whether you want to use serif or sans serif font, but be sure that your customers are able to read your content without squinting or mixing up letters.
Display Posts in Chronological Order
Keeping content fresh on your blog is key to keeping your audience engaged. However, it won’t do your customers much good if they have to dig to find your most recent post.
Luckily, most blogging platforms such as WordPress will automatically display your posts in chronologic order. But if you find yourself blogging and using a less advanced platform, be sure that your posts are displaying newest to oldest.
Don’t be Afraid to Use White Space
In the world of business blogging, white space is your friend. It allows your readers to easily skim through your posts and take in each paragraph one at a time. It gives the eye adequate breathing room and ensures that the content on your page doesn’t become overwhelming.
Customers will quickly be turned off if they can’t decipher one paragraph from the next. And the less white space that you use, the more cluttered your blog becomes, making it difficult and distracting for customers to read your content.
Keep Ads to a Minimum (or Preferably None at All)
Unless your revenue somehow depends on ads on your blog, it’s a good idea to not include them. Ads don’t add value to your blog or its design, and Adweek suggests that 83 percent of Americans claim that irrelevant ads get in the way of their online activities.
When the activity in question involves reading your brand’s blog content, do you really want to add unnecessary distraction?
Not to mention, other research suggests that your customers are more likely to survive a plane crash than actually click on a banner ad on your website.
Have we made our point loud and clear?
Try Your Luck With Templates (But Pick Premium)
Let’s face it—we aren’t all graphic designers and Web designers. Designing a completely custom blog layout should be reserved for the pros. Unfortunately, a custom blog layout can cost business owners a fortune, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
WordPress has thousands of great templates that you can choose from. Installation is literally click-and-go, and some templates give you the option of choosing your own colors and uploading your own logo.
However, it’s advised that you steer clear of free templates. The problem with free templates for business blogs is they can pose a security threat and come with a zip file of unexpected surprises, such as malware and viruses.
Free themes also give you very little to no control over customization or design. You might be downloading a free template, but that doesn’t mean you should stick with what the designer gave you. Coordinate the color scheme to match your brand, and a template can help your blog appear much more professional and credible.
Make it Mobile Friendly
By now, you likely realize the importance of websites being designed for mobile. Otherwise known as responsive Web design, you should have your blog and website designed to fit various Smartphones and tablets. This is to ensure that your customers won’t have to pinch and zoom on their screens to read your content.
Mobile-friendly design increases user experience, and also helps your website look more pulled together and professional. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile run the risk of looking disorganized and unsightly on Smartphones and tablets—and with mobile media consumption now greater than desktop, you’ll want to be sure that your blog design hits the right mark across all mediums.
The good news is that if you’ve paid for a WordPress template, there’s a really good chance that your layout is already set as responsive.
Include Content in Your Sidebars
Two-column blog templates are quite popular, with one large column showcasing your main blog content, and a smaller column that serves as your sidebar. Sometimes business owners become so focused on the design of the blog content, that they don’t do anything at all with the sidebar.
If this is your case, don’t leave your sidebar sad and empty. There are a lot of options where you can add life to your sidebar along with offering relevant content. Some examples of good content to add to a sidebar includes:
- Blog topic categories
- Business owner bio
- Newsletter sign up
- Call-to-action buttons
- Recent posts
- Popular posts
- Social icons
As you can see, there’s no reason to not give your blog sidebar some love. At the very least, try to include an author bio and blog topic categories, so you can entice your readers to continue exploring your blog and website.
Keep Your Blog Looking Fresh With Frequent Updates
Your blog layout might be top notch, but you still need great content to make it shine. The layout of your blog is essentially a picture frame, and your content serves as the main focal point. Even if your blog layout is beautiful, it won’t mean anything to your audience if your blog is never updated.
Imagine an intricate picture frame sitting on a desk without a photo. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
If you’re putting forward the effort for a fantastic company blog layout, don’t let your efforts fall short by neglecting the content aspect. Try to update your company blog at least once a week if at all possible. That way, your blog will look and feel fresh when your customers check back to see what’s new with your brand.
Add Some Kick to Your Company Blog With Best Design Practices
Although it can take some time to get your blog to come together in terms of both content and design, it’s certainly worth the effort. By combining high-quality design with engaging content, you’ll be well on your way to attracting new customers and increasing your blog’s ROI.
Amanda Lynch is owner of Busy Blogs Plus—a company that specializes in creating quality content for business blogs. Amanda earned her BA in Professional Writing in 2011, worked as a corporate content manager for 5 years, and followed her passion into the world of business blogging.